The 2004 event was the issue and culmination of
the effort and civic pride of several of Baltimore's city-mothers,
including classy classicist Christine Sarbanes (wife of Paul Sarbanes,
the longtime [
much-needed] conscience of the U.S.Senate,
whose kindness in attending the funeral of DR's step-father John Avirett
will never be forgotten in our family);
as well as city-fathers, including Mac Plant (Board, T.Rowe Price),
Charlie Cole (CEO, Legg Mason Trust), David Eaton (whose family
co-founded the late Four East Madison Orthopaedic Associates, Inc.),
and The Lyric's Meb Turner, Ed Brody, & Sandy Richmond.
We also thank Chesapeake Monuments' Anna Leytush
(who cheerfully fielded dozens of mother-hen phonecalls from DR,
as the dedication-date loomed ever nearer)
and are grateful for the interest and encouragement of
Tim Smith (Baltimore
Sun classical music reviewer);
Richard P. O'Mara (Baltimore Sun Editorial Board Emeritus);
Dr. McRae Williams (Union Memorial Hospital);
Darrin Britting (Librarian, Philadelphia Orchestra);
Bridget Carr (Archivist, Boston Symphony Orchestra);
and Joanne Suder, Tom McNicholas, & Rob Joyce.
The 5ft-by-3ft, 300-lb,
star-galaxy-black granite memorial, beautifully engraved (2004/11/4)
by Vladimir Leytush of Chesapeake Monuments (Reisterstown, MD),
funded by Barbara Rawlins, was dedicated 2004/11/6 in
the grand-entrance Rosa Ponselle Hall of Baltimore's Lyric Opera House,
the gold-lettered text (composed by Dennis Rawlins)
devoted to honoring Rachmaninov, The Lyric, Baltimore, and Maryland.
(The antiquities-backgrounds of Christine Sarbanes & DR led
to opting for granite. We both knew too well:
metal memorials are always melted-down in the long run.)
Baltimore's celebration occurred
exactly seventy tropical years after Sergei Rachmaninov
played in person our planet's very first hearing
of his final work for piano & orchestra,
at The Lyric on the evening of 1934/11/7. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
See Baltimore Sun 2004/11/6,
as well as the flyer
distributed at the dedication-ceremony.
[Of the sponsors of the memorial cited therein (and on the monument),
it happens that all eight are connected
(by attendance, employment, or marriage)
to Baltimore's Gilman School — half to the Class of 1955 alone.
To the flyer's item on the 1953 film
Story of Three Loves should be added:
the quintuple appearance of the
in the 1980 film Rhapsody
(starring the late Chris Reeve).
And Olympic double-chamption Katarina Witt ice-skated to
the Somewhere in Time at the culmination of
the film Rhapsody (R.DeNiro, Jonathan Pryce) in 1998.
Indeed, the Ronin
has long since become a favorite for numerous other ice skaters,
heard at both the 2002 & 2006 Winter Olympic Games, inspiring
Sarah Hughes to her Olympic gold medal at Salt Lake City (2002).] Rhapsody
Also distributed at the 2004 Lyric ceremony (besides drinks at the bar):
dozens of CDs of Rachmaninov's 1934 performance of the ,
as well as dozens of personally-signed CDs
of the famous 1956 stereo performance by Leon Fleisher,
who is still active nationally as soloist, as well as teacher
(at Baltimore's eminent Peabody Conservatory) —
and star of CBS' 2004/9/15 Rhapsody 60 Minutes.
(We are grateful to Leon for his patience and kindness
in taking considerable time on 2004/11/6 to sign so many CD-booklets.)
All CDs were funded by Barbara Rawlins.
Throughout the evening,
the Lyric's sound system successively played recordings
of performances of the
by L.Fleisher (Cleveland Orchestra & G.Szell),
by H.Gutierrez (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra & D.Zinman),
and by Rachmaninov himself (Philadelphia Orchestra & L.Stokowski).
The 11/6 ceremony was simple and to the point:
after a gracious introduction by Lyric chief Sandy Richmond,
very brief speeches were delivered by
( ) and Elizabeth Schaff (Archivist, Conservatory of Music,
Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University).
Then, while Rachmaninov's 1934 performance of the DIO
resounded throughout The Lyric's cavernous Ponselle Hall,
Barbara Rawlins' right hand lifted the white veil covering
the memorial — marking the instant commencing our mundane granite's
eternal public commemoration of Rachmaninov's equally-forever
Rhapsody celestial-artistic heritage.
[Click on either image to bring up far denser versions.]
Photo of Memorial: by DR, on evening of day it was engraved: 2004/11/4.
RachStar Painting (courtesy of the Robert M. Bryce PrePennyDumptruck Archives)
is by Boris Artzybasheff of Russia (digital-touch-up-graftings by DR),
who was famous for creating dozens of Time magazine's covers
(including the famous Hitler-red-X'd cover marking 1945 VE-Day,
recently simulated to celebrate Saddam's capture). Image apparently done
originally for cover of 78rpm 1942 album of Rachmaninov-Ormandy-Philadelphia
1941/12/20 recording of then-freshly-revised
Also used a decade later on the cover of the W.Kapell-F.Reiner recording
of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #4 Piano Concerto #2 with the Robin Hood Dell Orchestra.
The son of a member of that orchestra's directorship
was one of DR's freshman Harvard suite-mates in Holworthy Hall 5-6,
and it was a 33 1/3 rpm disc (of the Kapell recording)
in his personal collection†
that first introduced DR to the grandeur and depth of Rachmaninov's magic.
On 2006/1/6, to celebrate the installment of the Rachmaninov Memorial,
the Lyric held its “1st Annual Festival” concert,
Rach Around the World
(including music of Rachmaninov, Bizet, Bernstein, & others),
conducted by Vladimir Lande, principle guest conductor
of the St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.
The event represents a return to the Lyric of the orchestral
tradition of symphonic music
(as distinguished from opera, which has appeared continuously
at the Lyric for many years) — a revival of
the long tradition earlier maintained so eloquently by
the Baltimore Symphony Orchesta and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
We wish that this seed may flower into permanent bloom.
To enhance the likelihood of that issue, DR is at the Lyric's request
in the process of establishing a committee to advise on programming.
†Much as he loved the Kapell disk, DR soon found that
he was even more entranced by Rachmaninov's
Piano Concerto #3 —
the Gilels-Cluytens recording in the same collection.